Medical Journalism Elective | NYU Langone Health

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Department of Medicine Elective Catalog Medical Journalism Elective

Medical Journalism Elective

Course Directors: Marc Siegel, M.D., Media, Doctor Radio
Art Caplan, PhD, Ethics
Kathy Lewis, Communications
Elective Coordinator: Anita Smitherman,

Prerequisites: First-Year Elective, or completion of pre–clinical requirements/rising sophomore


Joint elective between Departments of Communication, Bioethics, and Doctor Radio.

Health is one of journalism’s most complex and important reporting beats. This course is designed to acquaint medical students with all venues of health reporting, including print, television, internet, and radio. The ethical dimensions inherent in health care reporting will be discussed. The elective will focus on how physicians can communicate effectively with the media in the context of daily practice and reacting to breaking medical news. To do so, students will develop competency in analyzing medical journals and case studies and reporting these findings accurately and simply for the public. In addition, emphasis will be placed on understanding health policy, such as the bifurcation of health insurance, the pharmaceutical industry, and conflicts of interest in health reporting. Didactic sessions and assignments will help medical students develop knowledge in these domains. The student will meet several times per week with a faculty member/preceptor. Extensive readings between sessions fill out the student’s time. A course syllabus and reading list will be provided. In partnership with SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio, as well as the Departments of Communications and Bioethics, students will have the opportunity to observe selected broadcasts, and interact with hosts and producers. Finally, students will have the opportunity to strengthen their ability to report and write about health stories by engaging in several written investigate assignments.

Objectives of the Elective

  • Increase awareness about health topics, policy and how they are communicated.
  • Write health stories succinctly and clearly for the general public.
  • Frame and formulate stimulating questions and speak to leading medical experts.
  • Develop skill in analyzing scientific studies and interpreting results.
  • Learn how to respond to and cover broader public health and health policy topics, e.g., disease outbreaks and controversies.

Key Responsibilities of the Student

  • To attend morning and afternoon conferences and lectures.
  • To attend selected broadcasts at the SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio studio in the NYU Langone Medical Center Lobby, as well as work with assigned personnel in the Department of Communications.
  • To prepare a brief (approximately 1,000 words) written investigative assignment each week.
  • To read weekly written assignments in a timely manner.

Method of Evaluation

Evaluation of the student occurs through direct observation and feedback of written assignments on a frequent basis. A written evaluation of the elective student's work is completed at the end of the elective and will be used to evaluate the student.

Scheduling Information

Months Offered: Feb & Oct
Students Per Period: Minimum of 4 students
Duration: (1 cr/wk); First Year: 2-week sessions in Spring and Fall. Second Year: re-evaluate to determine whether to have 4 week sessions in Spring and Fall.
Elective Coordinator: Anita Smitherman,